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FSU debuts at No. 4 in initial College Football Playoff rankings

TALLAHASSEE — The work isn’t done yet, but Florida State’s climb under the direction of coach Mike Norvell has been validated. After years of struggles, the Seminoles are among college football’s elite teams.

FSU debuted at No. 4 in the College Football Playoff’s initial standings, which were released on Tuesday evening. The Seminoles (8-0, 5-0 ACC) are behind only No. 1 Ohio State, No. 2 Georgia and No. 3 Michigan in a four-team playoff field, in position to return to the CFP for the first time since they were a semifinalist in 2014.

Florida State defensive lineman Jared Verse (5) sets up for a play against Syracuse during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP
Jared Verse spearheads a defense that complements a high-powered offense in Tallahassee. (Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP)

“As you look at the full body of work, Florida State being No. 4, the win over LSU, the win over Duke, a front-loaded schedule, they look really good,” CFP selection committee chair Boo Corrigan said. “Putting up 41 points a game, the defense is ranked in the top 20.”

Norvell has preached of the climb since arriving in Tallahassee in December 2019. His mantra, “work,” is on display throughout as a consistent message that there are no shortcuts. The Seminoles have navigated a challenging September, dominating LSU in the second half and pulling out an overtime win at Clemson, building confidence and momentum.

FSU has a 14-game winning streak going into Saturday’s game at Pittsburgh (3:30 p.m. on ESPN), which has just one ACC win and has struggled this season. Norvell said after Tuesday’s practice that he would be in meetings during the selection show and likely wouldn’t watch, and a number of Seminoles players also said they would skip the ESPN broadcast and find out on social media.

“I’m not going to get distracted,” Norvell said. “We have a purpose. We have a mission; 8-0 could be distracting if you allow it to be distracting. Anything good, bad, when we were 0-4 a few years back, that could have been very distracting. It’s about what you’re willing to do and what you’re willing to invest to get to where you want to go.”

FSU is clearly on the ascent as the calendar turns to November. There are no ranked opponents left in the regular season, but there are treacherous rivalry games to come against Miami (on Nov. 11) and at Florida (Nov. 25). The Seminoles will then play in the ACC championship game in Charlotte on Dec. 2, where it’s plausible they could face the CFP’s No. 13 team, Louisville.

While Ohio State, Georgia and Michigan are ahead of FSU, it’s notable the Buckeyes and Wolverines face off on Nov. 25 and the Seminoles could move up.

The Nos. 1 and 4 teams will face off in one semifinal and the Nos. 2 and 3 teams will face off in the other semifinal. The Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl will host the semifinals on New Year’s Day, with the CFP Championship game in Houston on Jan. 8.

Among the retired coaches on the CFP selection committee are Jim Grobe, Chris Ault and Joe Taylor. Grobe coached at Wake Forest (2001-13) among his stops, while Taylor coached at Florida A&M (2008-12) among his jobs.

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